Rovers feeling the blues

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By MATTHEW MCKEW

Four weeks of disrupted training has left Queenstown Rovers manager ‘‘frustrated’’, to say the least, and he’s desperate to see a solution.

Jamie Whitmarsh says there were some serious words had after the men’s senior football side lost 3-1 to Mosgiel at the Events Centre in Frankton last Saturday.

Had Rovers won against the reigning champions, they would’ve been in a position to push for the southern premier title.

But the team’s hamstrung once again by flooding at their training pitch for what Whitmarsh says might be the sixth year in row, barring the year the Lions visited.

‘‘Until something happens to improve the facilities over there, people like us are always going to suffer.’’

Three weeks of heavy rain has made training near impossible, while another week was lost to broken floodlights.

Whitmarsh: ‘‘You feel like you are paddling against the tide … it’s what stops us from becoming a real force because we have some really good players but we can’t prepare them.’’

Last week, two artificial pitches — including one with 4G turf designed specifically for football — were included in a masterplan for Queenstown Events Centre costing $151 million.

The council has applied for ‘shovel-ready’ funding from the government for the project and
Whitmarsh is hopeful money can be secured.

Last week’s opponents, as with other Dunedin-based teams in the league, have access to an all-weather pitch, which Whitmarsh says gives them the edge in the competition.

One thing missing from the Queenstown plans is proper drainage for the existing playing
fields, and Whitmarsh wants the council to consider this.

‘‘The slightest bit of rain here and all of a sudden we are off the field, it’s ridiculous.

‘‘I look at the Events Centre and it should be a high-performance environment … those
fields, whatever the sport, football, cricket, rugby, should be able to cope with any sort of weather.’’

The masterplan includes a controversial suggestion to close or relocate Frankton Golf
Centre.

That’s largely in favour of an airport evacuation zone and possible transport hub.

But Whitmarsh is hoping the conversations around the golf course can be separated from the wider development and the new pitches can be built as soon as possible.
matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz